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Can Previous Convictions Affect My Criminal Sentence in Wisconsin?

Posted on in Criminal Law

Waukesha criminal defense attorneyWhile the criminal justice system in Wisconsin is supposed to be fair and objective, the truth is that it can be difficult to predict exactly what the consequences will be for a specific criminal conviction. Judges often have some discretion when it comes to sentencing, and a previous criminal conviction may impact a judge’s willingness to be generous or forgiving with a defendant. Other factors, like gang involvement or the specific location of a crime, can require a harsher sentence. If you have been charged with criminal conduct, it is important to have a criminal defense attorney help you understand what issues may increase your punishment. 

What Factors Can Increase a Criminal Sentence? 

Before you are sentenced for a crime, you must either take a plea deal or be proven guilty by a jury of your peers. It is essential to have a criminal defense attorney with either option, because an attorney can work out a defense strategy that gets you a better plea bargain or cause the jury to doubt your guilt. 

Once you agree to a plea bargain, or a jury has decided beyond reasonable doubt that you committed a crime, a judge will decide on your sentence and this is where certain aggravating factors become important. For example, theft of retail property worth less than a certain amount may only warrant probation the first time. But, if you are convicted of theft a second time, a judge may decide to send you to jail for up to nine months. 

Some factors are mandatory, some are at the judge’s discretion, and some factors only apply to certain types of crimes. The most common factors that can aggravate criminal sentencing include: 

  • Committing a crime in a school zone
  • Gang involvement
  • Whether a victim was bodily injured
  • Whether a gun or other dangerous weapon was used during the crime
  • Whether the crime involved a co-conspirator
  • How dangerous the defendant is to the public

Even HIV positivity can be used to enhance the sentencing for certain sex crimes, like rape. For help understanding how a previous criminal record or other issues could impact your current case, consider getting the help of a criminal defense attorney right away. 

Meet with a Waukesha County Criminal Defense Lawyer

An experienced and knowledgeable Waukesha criminal defense attorney at Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP may be able to help you build a strong defense and minimize the impact of previous criminal convictions on your current charges. We take each case seriously and work hard to advocate for the rights of our clients. Call us today to schedule your free case review and learn more about how we can help. You can contact our offices at any hour of the day at 262-232-6699

 

Sources: 

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/973/017 

https://doc.wi.gov/Pages/AboutDOC/CommunityCorrections/GeneralInformation.aspx

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